Modern dancer and choreographer Paul Taylor was born in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania. As a youth, Taylor excelled in sports and entered Syracuse University in 1947 on a swimming scholarship. His interest changed to dance, however, and in 1952 he entered the Julliard School, where he studied modern dance with Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey, and Jose Limon and ballet with Antony Tudor and Margaret Craske. Taylor began his professional career in 1953, dancing with the Martha Graham company, where he created such roles as Aegisthus in Clytemnestra (1958) and Hercules in Alcestis (1960). He also performed in works by other noted choreographers, including Charles Weidman, Merce Cunningham, and George Balanchine, who created a special solo for him in his ballet Episodes (1959). Taylor began choreographing his own work in 1954 and formed the Paul Taylor Dance Company that same year. Since that time, he has created numerous works for his company. Some of his best-known dances are Aureole (1962), Esplanade (1975), Runes (1975), Cloven Kingdom (1976), Big Bertha (1970), Airs (1978), and Arden Court (1981). One of the most productive, imaginative, and musical choreographers of his generation, Taylor is known for his use of a wide variety of movement styles and the rare sense of humor displayed in many of his dances. Taylor retired from dancing in the 1970s but has continued to devote all of his talent and energy to his very popular dance company.